When the U.S. rock band The Eagles reunited in the 1990s and toured Japan, The Asahi Shimbun quoted a Japanese fan as saying, "The moment The Eagles struck up their 'Hotel California' intro, I was transported back to the time when I was visiting Los Angeles as a 19-year-old. Memories of that city came rushing back."

Reading this, you may be replaying that haunting guitar-strummed melody in your mind now.

I am sure everyone knows at least one or two intros that immediately take them back in time when they hear them.

But all this has changed, with pop music intros having become considerably shorter today.

A researcher at Ohio State University analyzed hit tunes of the past 30 years and discovered that while their intros averaged more than 20 seconds in 1986, it was down to a mere five seconds in 2015.

The researcher theorized that artists today tend to get to the hook of the song quickly to grab the listener's attention.

Gone are the days when people bought records and CDs and listened to all the numbers in their arranged order. For some years, online listeners have been able to skip songs they don't like instantly and move on to another.

The shorter intros must be a means to keep the audience hooked. In fact, some listeners are said to even skip the intros altogether.

Applied to our daily lives, there are things we do that resemble such song intros.

One example may be to pull back the curtains and open the window at the start of the day to let in light and a fresh breeze. Another may be to sip a cup of coffee before starting work.

Life gets hectic in late December, but that's precisely when these "intros" bring precious relief.

The "Hotel California" intro, which I hadn't heard for many years, lasted about 50 seconds. When we can't spare just that small amount of time, does it mean we have become culturally evolved? Or is it cultural regression?

--The Asahi Shimbun, Dec. 27

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.